Good citizens who do not vote

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Americans would laugh themselves silly if they saw how many Greeks are planning to abstain from voting in the European parliamentary polls. Isn't it the Greeks, a fiercely political nation, who used to poke fun at the apolitical "Yankees" because many wouldn't vote in their presidential elections?

Many argue that the Greek people feel that European elections are irrelevant. But who says the Americans don't feel the same? After all, US citizens, beside their president, also vote for their congressmen, senators, governors, state senate, mayor and even local police chiefs, district attorneys etc.

The truth is that, on a daily basis, the European Parliament really does seem a distant thing. On the one hand, its decisions are diluted (and sometimes annulled) by national politics and, on the other, they always take a long time to be implemented. Sure, things could be simpler and more effective, but the European Union is a relatively young political experiment that is constantly torn between unity and the national sensibilities of 27 different states.

This, however, does not mean that we should give up on it, nor that it is not a worthy forum for dialogue.

The previous administration of the European Parliament discussed and enacted a string of measures that we will sooner or later be faced with. These have to do with the number of hours we work, what we eat, the environment, Internet security and even copyright laws - all issues that will concern us in the future. The worst way to deal with these issues is to wash our hands of having to make a political decision. Naturally no single politician or combination of parties will be perfect, but some are surely better than others. So, when we reject reality because of an ideal, all we are serving is the worst-case scenario. Because, as drama critic George Jean Nathan said, "bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote." As an American, he knew a thing or two.

«Kathimerini» English Edition, 15.5.2009